Exultant Ark: Missing God in the Obvious Places

As a Trekkie and a Jesus-freak, I’ve always found science and faith to be compatible. Science, to me, is the discovery of the amazing, complex, and mysterious world God created.

There are some who feel science and faith are mutually exclusive. To some Christians, the phrase “Christian science fiction” is an oxymoron. On the opposite side, many scientists posit God had nothing to do with the creation of this world, but rather it all came about by chance.

Exultant ArkI think both extremes are wrong. A Christian who rejects science looks at the Grand Canyon and calls it evidence of Noah’s flood. (I’m not saying it’s not, but…verdict’s still out…) A scientist who looks at the world through a Godless lens, says things like this:

Love is any of various emotions that relate to feelings of strong attachment to another. The origin of such feelings probably lies in their benefit to inclusive fitness—the sum of an organism’s reproductive output and that of relatives with shared genes. Love motivates individuals to care for and protect one another, which in turn confers a survival advantage.

If I’m being honest, I have no idea what “inclusive fitness” means, but I think I get the gist. In short, love exists primarily as a survival mechanism. As a side benefit, it makes us feel all warm and gooey inside.

To be fair, I don’t know anything about Jonathan Balcombe’s beliefs about God, and a short perusal of his views on animal love and pleasure leave me nothing to argue with. Of course animals feel pleasure and love. Anyone with a pet knows that.

At times, I see God’s purest love in the eyes of animals, and Balcombe’s book The Exultant Ark: A pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure seems to celebrate that, whether he realizes it or not. So, kudos to him.

However, except for his interesting reference to the “Ark”, which I’m assuming is a Biblical reference to Noah’s Ark, I see no evidence of God in Balcombe’s statements.

Pleasure has important moral implications. An individual who can experience pleasure has a life worth living. He has interests. Her life has intrinsic value. It also follows that death is harmful because it deprives the victim of future pleasures. The reason, I think, that murder is such a heinous crime is that it deprives someone the opportunity to enjoy the good things in life

So… A depressed person comes to him and says, “My life has no meaning, I want to kill myself.” What words of encouragement is he going to give?

Balcombe: “You aren’t experiencing pleasure, therefore your life has no intrinsic value, so basically you’re worthless. Wait. I mean. Don’t kill yourself because then you won’t be able to feel pleasure. Killing is bad.”

Depressed person: “I can’t feel pleasure. All I feel is pain. That’s why I want to kill myself.”

Balcombe: “Oh. Then. The first thing I said.”

Here’s a possibility: naturalism (including Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory) is bad for the survival of the species. (Ironic, huh?) Because, well, when you really boil naturalism down, who’d not want to slit their wrists? Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but perhaps you can see what I’m getting at.

I suppose a Darwinist might say, “Well, those who can’t accept naturalism’s stark view of the world, and therefore succumb to their own depression, are obviously not the fittest, so it’s okay to weed them out.”

I say, maybe naturalism seems so stark, and potentially depressing because it doesn’t ring true to the human (or animal) heart. And because it doesn’t ring true, perhaps it is wrong.

Could it be that love is an external source? Could it be that love is still there, even when we are incapable of feeling pleasure? Could it be that love makes life worth living, even when we are in the pit of despair? Because in the midst of darkness, we know there is a love that transcends our current reality, a love we can cling to, a love we can believe in, a love that will renew our minds, our bodies, and our strength?

Could it be that without this love, the human species would die? We would not survive without it. It is there sustaining us, even when, in our pride, we deny its existence?

I’m just sayin…

Sorry to pick on Jonathan, but his comments got me thinking about our human tendency to deny God even though His works (the earth and encompassing universe) are constantly staring us in the face.

Yet, if we remain silent, the rocks will cry out. (Luke 19:40)

Want to weigh in?